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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 7th Jul 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Liberation Group boss – ‘we’ve a pipeline of sites lined up in West Country to grow Butcombe business’: Liberation Group chief executive Mark Crowther has told Propel it has a pipeline of sites lined up in the West Country to grow its Butcombe business following the company’s £118m acquisition by Caledonia Investments. Crowther said the Channel Islands-based brewer and retailer, which has 94 pubs, would be looking to grow its UK footprint by concentrating its acquisitions on the West Country, within a radius stretching from Hampshire up to the Cotswolds and down to Exeter. He added it was looking at “high quality” pubs, predominately freehold, to add to the 20-strong Butcombe estate on both a managed and tenanted basis as part of the £40m funding available following the deal. Crowther said food-led pubs would play an important part in the growth, with 45% of the group’s turnover in its managed estate coming from food, while accommodation would also be a key area. The company is currently adding eight bedrooms to The Pelican in Chew Magna, near Bristol, and is planning 12 more at The Swan near the city’s airport. Crowther said: “The Channel Islands remains our heartland but there are limited growth opportunities for us there. Butcombe is a fantastic business for us to grow and a strong brand, so it makes sense for us to grow that business rather than start another one. We are going to concentrate on the West Country – it’s a tight geography, just like the Channel Islands. We’re looking for quality sites, not ‘turnaround’ pubs, with or without accommodation. We’ve got a pipeline of sites, both individual and as a group, and we will be having conversations over the next couple of years. We’ve said before we’d like to double the size of the estate in that time.” Crowther said he was delighted with the deal and was looking forward to the next stage of the company’s development. He added: “It’s eight years to the day we completed the deal with LGV (Legal & General Ventures). It’s been a great eight years and they’ve helped us grow. We’ve been working with Caledonia for the past two-and-a-half to three years and in that time they’ve got to know myself and the team. They’ve got to know the business and bought into our strategy.” Legal & General Ventures was advised by mergers and acquisitions advisory Sapient Corporate Finance, led by Peter Hansen and Fraser Anderson.

Industry News:

Propel partners insights firm Horizons for Casual Dining Study Tour: Propel is partnering with insights firm Horizons for the first Casual Dining Study Tour. The “food of the world” study tour takes place on Wednesday, 7 September and features a full-day tour, on foot, around Shoreditch and Spitalfields sampling the casual dining scene in an area packed with innovation. The tour, which runs from 10am to 4pm, will visit Dishoom (Bombay-style street food with vintage decor and upscale touches), Porky’s BBQ (a taste of Memphis with fuss-free food and authentic slow-cooked meat), GB Pizza Co (wood-fired pizzas topped with seasonal British ingredients served in a cool, casual environment), The Real Greek (healthy seasonal menus and meze sharing platters), Leon (Mediterranean flavours packed with variety and natural healthiness), Wahaca (Mexican market eating from little treats to long-marinated pork and zingy salsa), Byron (better burgers – a simple thing done well), The Breakfast Club (traditional dishes and unusual offerings), Galvin Brothers’ HOP (craft beer, classic pub dishes and premium hotdogs), and Comptoir Libanais (wholesome, healthy Lebanese food in a souk-like setting). Tickets are £345 plus VAT for ALMR members and £395 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book your place, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email

Backers scramble to grab slice of the food delivery market: Investors have been scrambling to grab a slice of the growing food delivery market, pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into start-ups such as Deliveroo, the Financial Times reports. According to data from market research company Euromonitor, growth in the home delivery and takeaway food sector has outpaced that of restaurants each year since the financial crisis, as consumers place greater emphasis on ease and convenience. The data showed that between 2010 and 2015, the western European market for takeaway and delivery grew 2.2%, to £18.4bn, while the value of food bought in restaurants fell by 7.6% to £135.3bn. Luciana Lixandru, an investor who helped lead venture capitalist company Accel’s investment in Deliveroo, said: “It is a huge space in terms of consumer demand. It is one of these markets, like the transportation market, that is so large and it is expanding because it is more affordable now.” However, there has been a slowdown in investment in delivery start-ups, according to data service CB Insights, which said the sector had pulled in more than $609m across 23 deals in the first quarter of 2016, putting the category on track for only half the funding it saw last year. Yet the slowdown does not appear to be troubling investors. “You have the early stage, where you see a lot of fast-growing companies,” said Martin Mignot, a partner at Index Ventures, a London and San Francisco-based company that has invested in Deliveroo, Just Eat and other food start-ups. “That attracts a lot of interest, attention, funding and competition,” he added, saying consolidation and a “harder time” often followed. He said overall there would be fewer companies, but the winners would “do well”.

Venues stocking craft beer rise 21% in a year: Figures produced by Marston’s for an analysts presentation show the number of outlets stocking craft beer has risen by 21% in the year to March 2016, to 41,000. However, craft beer still only accounts for 4.3% of total beer volume. A total of 7.1 million UK consumers now drink craft beer when out of home – compared with 4.8 million who drink gin. The total percentage of UK consumers who drink out weekly is 35%, but rises to 51% for 18 to 34-year-olds. The on-trade has seen an 860 million reduction in the number of drinks served since 2012 but a £1.5bn rise in value. Marston’s forecasts the on-trade’s share of total volumes will continue to decline compared with the off-trade, predicting a reduction from circa 48% to circa 43%. Marston’s reported the top five craft beer brands in the UK are Brooklyn Lager (4.7% share), Brewdog Punk IPA (2.5% share), Meantime Pale Ale (1.8% share), Camden Hells Lager (91.6% share), and Shipyard American Pale Ale (1.9% share).

Government launches High Street Pledge today: High streets minister Marcus Jones will officially launch the government’s High Street Pledge today (Thursday, 7 July) as well as the 2016 Great British High Street competition. The event in Camden will be co-hosted by British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds, who sits on the government’s Future High Streets Executive. Casual Dining Group brand Café Rouge and pub operators have been among the first businesses to sign up to the High Street Pledge, committing to support community regeneration, share skills and offer strategic leadership, support local business-led partnerships, and celebrate local achievements to restore national pride in Britain’s high streets. The pledge is part of the government’s commitment to revitalise high streets and town centres, including a £6.7bn package of business rates support, planning changes and new measures to make town centre parking easier. Now in its third year, the Great British High Street competition attracted 230 entries and more than 200,000 public votes in 2015.

Company News:

Punch rolling out Falcon retail agreement at rate of three pubs a week, Mighty Local sees average 25% uplift in beer volumes on conversion: Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood has told Propel its Falcon retail agreement is being rolled out at the rate of three pubs a week and will be a “significant” part of its estate in the future. The company currently has 70 Falcon sites and anticipates having 100 by the end of its financial year in August. It then plans to further expand the number of pubs operating under the agreement next year. Garrood, who is celebrating his first anniversary in charge, said the company had noticed a “higher degree of satisfaction” from its publicans using the agreement. Under the terms, publicans earn a percentage of the turnover and are able to concentrate on running the pub, with Punch dealing with all the “administrative” duties. Garrood added: “It’s a very straightforward and administratively light way of running a pub. It’s quite a change in the way our business model works but if you look at what it’s doing for our publicans we are very encouraged indeed. We are seeing a much higher degree of satisfaction from publicans taking on this agreement.” Punch is about to open its 29th Mighty Local site and Garrood said it had identified 200 pubs that could benefit from the format. He revealed pubs converting to Mighty Local had seen a 25% uplift in beer volumes on average. However, at its Gardeners Arms pub in Lofthouse, near Wakefield, volumes had risen 107% since it was refurbished. Garrood added that Mighty Local was about establishing community pubs with regular entertainment which people wanted to visit regularly. He said Punch’s offer would always be about the “local community pub”, which would be supplemented by its other smaller retail brands such as its Champs sports bars. Garrood also felt it was too early to know what the effects of Brexit would be on the company and industry in general. However, he believed pubs could be less affected because they offer “good value for money”. He added that with the pound falling in value, people might be more tempted to stay in the UK for their holidays and therefore pubs in seaside and tourist areas could also benefit. Reflecting on his first year, Garrood said his biggest challenge had been getting his team to recognise its publicans as customers and Punch being a hospitality rather than just a pub business. He added: “However, I’ve never seen such a degree of enthusiasm from a team of people in my life. I have such a huge amount of admiration for them.”

Spur Group closes UK restaurants: South Africa-based Spur Group is closing all its UK restaurants yesterday (Wednesday, 6 July) because the “sites are no longer viable”. The company operated eight steak and grill restaurants in the UK and Ireland as well as its ribs, burgers and wings concept RBW, which debuted in Corby, Northamptonshire, last June. Its website stated: “Spur UK Steak & Grill has permanently closed. Thank you for your loyalty and support over the years.” Several customers posted messages on the company’s Facebook page asking about the future of its restaurants. One customer asked why its UK branches had closed? Spur UK replied: “Unfortunately the businesses weren’t viable any more.” In its latest accounts for the year ending 30 June 2015, the company reported turnover of £319,194, compared with £357,881 the previous year. It saw a pre-tax loss of £1,483,249, compared with a loss of £263,248 the year before. The company results presentation in 2015 reported turnover down by 10.7% at its eight sites and “pressure on food costs, labour and occupancy costs”. The company stated at the time: “The directors have prepared the accounts on a going concern basis as they have concluded this is an appropriate basis given the financial position of the company, the risks and uncertainties being faced and the fact that confirmation has been received from Steak Ranches International Limited BV that it will provide financial support, if required, to enable the company to continue trading for a period of at least 12 months from the date of approval of these financial statements. The directors continue to review the company’s operations and expect future results to be positive and an improvement on those seen in the current year.”

Heavitree Brewery reports 28% pre-tax profit increase in first half: Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has reported a 28% increase in pre-tax profit for the six months to 30 April 2016. The company saw turnover rise to £3,312,000, compared with 3,277,000 the previous year. Pre-tax profit rose to £505,000, compared with £395,000 the year before. Chairman Nicholas Tucker said: “The company has returned an operating profit of £630,000 (2015: £507,000) for the period under review. Last year’s corresponding operating profit for the period was affected by a number of factors including some extraordinary costs such as a properties’ valuation cost before our new banking facility, an agency cost for the operation of a tenancy over the winter period plus a lack of contribution from two houses where major refurbishments were being carried out. These houses are now operational again and together with some improved rental terms on some new tenancy agreements, I am pleased to be able to report a 24% increase in operating profit on the previous year. After allowing for finance costs of £124,000 (2015: £117,000), the group profit before taxation is £505,000 (2015: £395,000), which shows a 28% increase on the previous year. In respect of the properties previously reported as being marketed for sale; the sale of one of the new houses in Topsham Road in Exeter on the former site of the Country House Inn completed on 29 June and the sale of the Hole in the Wall in Dawlish completed on 24 May. The Maltster’s Arms in Harbertonford has been taken off the market and is now open and trading after a new lease was granted to an experienced local operator. Having received notice from the incumbent tenant, the Carpenter’s Arms in Ilsington, a small house best suited to an owner operator, was placed on the market in April. An acceptable offer was received in very short order and the sale completed on 24 June. Work has commenced on the refurbishment of the Dolphin Inn in Torquay, which closed earlier in the year. We look forward to reopening this house in August. Following a long closure, development work is also planned to start shortly on the Dartmoor Halfway Inn in Bickington. When completed, both should add significantly to our income stream. In line with our expectations we have made a solid start to trading in the second half of the year and the company is well positioned before the beginning of the summer season.”

G1 Group to start expansion of Forgan’s brand with Dundee site: Glasgow-based G1 Group, which manages more than 55 venues including bars, hotels, cinemas and a casino in Scotland, is set to start expansion of its Forgan’s brand by opening a new bar and restaurant in Dundee. The new venue will open in Brook Street in the city’s Broughty Ferry suburb later in the summer, creating 45 jobs. The Forgan’s concept was launched in St Andrews and features four private dining rooms known as “bothies”, which can be combined to create one larger space. The venue offers brunch, roast, main and “wee” menus, all championing Scottish produce such as salmon, Arbroath smokies, Orkney beef and Ayrshire pork. The drinks menu features Scottish whiskies, craft beers and gin, alongside wine and cocktails. Aylin Sulo, who will oversee the restaurant, told the Tele: “We are beyond delighted to continue the story of Forgan’s in Broughty Ferry. This isn’t a case of ‘mass expansion’ but a careful and considerate decision to bring something truly special to somewhere we feel is a natural fit for the brand.”

Food Nation founder launches healthy eating concept Harissa in Newcastle: Jamie Sadler, who founded social enterprise Food Nation, which helps schools, businesses and individuals make better food choices, has launched new healthy eating concept Harissa in Newcastle. The restaurant in Starbeck Avenue offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes using fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Harissa specialises in chargrilled meat, home-made flatbread, fresh stews and meze. Sadler told Chronicle Live: “We have worked hard to create a menu which is not only healthy and offers dishes which are low in fat, salt and sugar, but is also tasty and satisfying. Healthy food does not have to be boring food, and our team has worked hard to design a creative menu full of the flavours of the Mediterranean and North Africa. Our flatbreads are made on-site and visitors will notice our menus change regularly because we use the freshest seasonal ingredients to bring out the best flavours.”

Wadworth plans £500,000 investment in home town: Wadworth, the pub operator and family brewer, has revealed plans to invest more than £500,000 into pubs in its home town of Devizes in Wiltshire. These plans began with a £150,000 investment into The Crown pub in the town. This is the beginning of a long-term investment plan into Wadworth pubs in the Devizes area in line with Wadworth’s overall development strategy for its estate. The Crown in New Park Street was the first pub to undergo a complete refurbishment to its interior and exterior, while also being transferred from a tenanted to managed house so it can fully operate under the Wadworth brand. Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “We have planned a considerable investment programme to give pubs in the Wadworth home town some much-deserved TLC, and we are also looking at investing into other properties in Devizes, including The Bear Hotel and The Black Swan. We pride ourselves on our roots in Devizes and we want this to show through our pubs in the town, which is why we are investing close to £1m.”

Kukui Bars and Nightclubs to open second bierkeller site, in Taunton: Kukui Bars and Nightclubs is to open the second site for its bierkeller concept this month, this time in Taunton. The company is transforming the Fever bar in High Street into the Bavarian-themed venue, which will offer more than 80 different types of beers, ahead of launch on Friday, 29 July. Duncan Squires, sales and marketing director for Kukui Bars and Nightclubs, told the Somerset County Gazette: “The Bierkeller Taunton will offer a traditional Bierkeller-themed experience – it’s the first of its kind in Somerset. All the big live sporting events will be shown on big-screen televisions. There will be more than 80 types of beer from across the globe for people to enjoy and bar food including traditional German bratwursts, pretzels and pizzas. We will, of course, also serve traditional Somerset cider. We’ll have a traditional oompah band for entertainment and then we’ll encourage people to get up and dance on the tables. We already have one in Cheltenham, which is really popular, so we’re hoping for the same thing here in Somerset. We’ve tried to make it as traditional as possible so there will be long benches for people to sit on and the drinks will be served out of steins.”

Nottingham-based high-end bar and restaurant concept set to close nine months after launch as owner runs out of money: A high-end bar, restaurant and entertainment concept that opened in Nottingham in October is set to close after its owner ran out of money. Vesper TPG, led by Poseidon Kumar, launched Loom in High Pavement after securing a 15-year-lease. However, the bar has been closed this week and its Facebook page deleted, reports The Business Desk. The idea behind The Loom was it would double up as an entertainment venue, with live shows on a purpose-built stage, so guests could listen to music or watch a show while drinking and dining. Last month, Kumar set up a page on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe asking for investors in The Loom but it has yet to attract a single pledge. The statement on the page read: “We are now at a stage of closing due to a lack of funds to pay salary and rent. Whilst we knew the risks we were getting into, it’s a shame the thing that is going to close the business is not a well-received concept, but that our creditors could not keep their word. I find myself here now as a last resort to save the business as well as the futures of the staff who have worked tirelessly to make The Loom a real thing by reaching out to the kindness in people that I know is in all of us to help give this place another chance.”

Coffee Republic opens 33rd UK franchise site, on track to treble estate by end of year: Coffee Republic has opened its 33rd franchise site in the UK, this time in Sutton, Surrey. The launch of the 110 square metre store with 45 covers in High Street means the company is on track to treble its UK estate by the end of the year. Further new openings are planned in the next few weeks in Muswell Hill Broadway, London; Dunstable, Bedfordshire; Colchester, Essex; Dalston, east London; and the third of its Mid Counties Co-Operative Group stores in Stourport, West Midlands. Coffee Republic has also continued its international growth, with the first of two sites having opened in Bahrain as well as airside at Menorca Airport, taking the brand to 22 bars worldwide. The current expansion programme represents the largest period of growth since new owners took over the brand in 2009.

Muffin Break stores see significant sales increase following refurbishment: Bakery Muffin Break said it had seen a significant increase in sales at its Redditch, Derby and East Kilbride sites following major refurbishments. Muffin Break Redditch reported a 42% sales increase in its first week of trading following the makeover, compared with the same period last year. Muffin Break’s stores in Derby and East Kilbride saw an increase in sales of 17% and 10% respectively following the refurbishments. Muffin Break general manager Lisa Brook said: “Our store refurbishment programme has been hugely successful and the increase in sales following our new-look stores further demonstrates this. The revamped modern, yet rustic designs of Muffin Break stores are enticing both new and old customers to come and visit us. We hope to see the sales continue to thrive in these areas.” Originating in Australia, Muffin Break has about 250 locations worldwide, with more than 60 stores in the UK. Each site is locally owned and operated.

Costa Coffee launches short-film YouTube series showcasing long-term career prospects: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has launched a Costa Careers YouTube series aimed at showing the long-term job prospects the company can offer. The four short films have been created to encourage young people to understand how their first job is a vital start to their career; providing lifelong skills and work experience. One of the films stars Costa UK and Ireland managing director Jason Cotta going back to a store to showcase his barista skills. In the “Boss vs Barista” film, Cotta takes time out of his schedule to go into a store to see what skills and personality traits are needed to be a Costa barista, proving exactly what it takes to succeed in the hospitality sector. It shows Cotta competing in challenges against barista maestro Nicoly Serreira, demonstrating the transferrable skills baristas learn in-store and that Cotta still uses in his role today. The video series launched as Costa released new research showing more than a third of people (34%) said their first job prepared them for a future career. The research also found the top skills employees look for in future employees are communication (49%), teamwork (38%) and people skills (33%). Cotta said: “With more than half of our employee base consisting of under-25s, we are extremely proud of the fact that every week we give 110 young people the opportunity to start their career. I hope through the new series young people will see the long-term career opportunities available at Costa and will be encouraged to pursue a career within the business.”

Vegan restaurant that promised to ‘end world hunger’ closes after three months: A vegan restaurant that promised to “eradicate world hunger by 2040” has closed after three months. Give Kitchen, funded by Paul Hampson, closed without paying staff their last month’s wages. However, the restaurant, which pledged to give away a meal to a homeless shelter for every meal purchased, insisted it would resolve staff pay issues “as quickly as possible”. Hampson said Give Kitchen, which started out as an online food delivery service in 2015, was now in the hands of an insolvency practitioner, which would place it into liquidation. Hampson told the Liverpool Echo: “Despite popularity among visitors to the restaurant, revenue was lower than expected. Interest in the online meals also waned, making the business, without further investment, insolvent. Keen to see it succeed, every attempt was made to cut costs and increase sales. I also continued to bolster the business despite it posting significant losses. Unfortunately, after making £500,000 investment over the course of the business, which I will not get back, I had no choice but to draw a line as the cash simply wasn’t there.”

McDonald’s to expand all-day breakfast options across the US: McDonald’s will expand its all-day breakfast options across the US, from September. To continue giving its customers more of their favourite breakfast items at any time of day, McDonald’s will shift to one national All Day Breakfast menu at participating restaurants, QSR reports. The new expanded menu will include Egg McMuffin; Sausage McMuffin with Egg; Sausage McMuffin; Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit; Sausage Biscuit with Egg; Sausage Biscuit; Bacon, Egg and Cheese McGriddles; Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddles; Sausage McGriddles; Hotcakes; Hotcakes and Sausage; Sausage Burrito; Fruit and Maple Oatmeal; Fruit ’N Yogurt Parfait; and Hashbrowns.

Rick Stein to open Marlborough restaurant in early autumn: Celebrity chef Rick Stein will open his new restaurant in Marlborough in “early autumn”. The self-titled venue in High Street will be Stein’s first site in Wiltshire. Work is already under way to transform grade II-listed Lloran House into a 100-cover restaurant, with Stein and his team seeking more than 40 “dynamic and enthusiastic” members of staff. The menu will remain faithful to Stein’s roots, with a heavy focus on seafood alongside local produce such as meat and game. Group executive chef Jack Stein said: “We’ve been spending the past few months looking into local suppliers and their products, getting a real understanding of what is available in the area. We have found some great produce in Wiltshire.” Stein operates a number of venues in Devon and Cornwall as well as restaurants in Sandbanks in Dorset, and Winchester in Hampshire. Earlier this month, Stein pulled out of plans to open a seafront restaurant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, blaming the move on Brexit.

Manchester-based blues and bourbon bar concept shuts city centre site seven months after launch: Blues and bourbon bar concept Bourbon & Black has closed its site in Manchester city centre just seven months after opening. The company, owned by James Alexander, has shut the venue on the corner of Mount Street and Central Street. It revealed the decision on social media but said its original site in Didsbury would continue to operate, reports the Manchester Evening News. A Facebook post said any “pre-arranged booking” would be relocated and staff would “be in contact with you personally to offer to relocate you and your guest(s) to our Bourbon & Black Didsbury site with a special offer to compensate for any inconvenience caused”. The city centre site was much larger than the Didsbury bar restaurant, and was set on two floors plus a mezzanine level reached via a spiral staircase. It had been styled to fit in with Alexander’s passion for blues music, American bourbon and Deep South cuisine.

Grindsmith opens third Manchester coffee shop, first hybrid operation: Manchester-based artisan coffee shop brand Grindsmith has opened its third site in the city after trading for just three years. The company, run by directors Luke Tomlinson and Peter Gibson, has launched the outlet at MediaCityUK, creating 11 jobs. The site, which is on the main route from the car park to the BBC building within the MediaCityUK complex, is the first hybrid operation from Grindsmith. It changes from a coffee house during the day to a bar serving a selection of wine, beer and food in the evening. The company has received a £65,000 loan from Business Finance Solutions (BFS) – the finance arm of the Manchester Growth Company – to make the expansion possible. Tomlinson told The Business Desk: “We have created a concept that gives our customers a space to meet, a place to work, and a location to take joy in coffee and, by focusing on quality and delivery, we aim to be the coffee destination of choice for our community.” Initially launched as a coffee cart in 2013, Grindsmith received a BFS start-up loan to invest in a permanent base in a small eco-pod in Greengate Square, Manchester. The second unit in Deansgate is located within Rise Manchester. Gibson added: “We are also looking at further expansion within Greater Manchester and possibly into London within the next few years.”

Olive Tree Brasserie opens Greek restaurant in Chester, third Lancashire site: Olive Tree Brasserie has opened its third Greek restaurant in Lancashire, this time in Chester. The 164-cover venue in Watergate Row, which features two bars and private dining areas, joins sister sites in Preston and Lytham St Annes. As well as souvlakis and salads, main dishes include Metaxa Kota (chicken breast with Metaxa brandy, mushrooms and cream), and Filletakia (medallions of fillet steak in red wine with Lancashire blue cheese and Greek-style roast potatoes). Olive Tree Brasserie owner and director Dean Wilson told The Chester Chronicle: “We have worked hard to build the brand since opening our first site in Lytham St Annes almost eight years ago and have enjoyed continued success since opening our second site in Preston. Winning awards and coming highly commended in the press, on independent review sites, and from bloggers across the globe is a great motivator and was a driving force in the decision to open the next restaurant.”

Raymond Blanc – White Brasserie Co pub business has ‘enormous opportunity’: Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has said his White Brasserie Co pub business has an “enormous opportunity” but added that Brasserie Blanc would grow organically. However, speaking at the launch of a Brasserie Blanc in a historic building in Knutsford, Cheshire, once associated with novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, the chef revealed further sites could be on the cards in the region’s biggest cities. He said: “We’ll see what the market tells us in Manchester and Liverpool. We’ll certainly look at it. I looked at Knutsford a while ago and really liked it. It’s got good demographics, not just in Knutsford but Manchester and beyond, and we fell in love with the building. We were so lucky to find this site. Maybe the lunch trade will be more difficult here because there’s not much footfall at lunchtime but we’ll see. Cheshire is very attractive for us.” He added: “I think the pubs have the biggest opportunities for the future. Most pubs are wet-led and focused on the breweries, but the modern consumer wants something that’s more family friendly, food-led and fun. Brasserie Blanc will grow organically but with White Brasserie Co there is an enormous opportunity. Eating out is going to become more and more popular as our lives get increasingly stressed and we commute more in our daily lives.”

Tom Kerridge launches new website to build profile and grow brand online: Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has launched a new website aimed at building his profile and continuing to grow his brand online. Kerridge has worked with Harrogate-based digital agency Adigi. The chef first came to prominence when his pub The Hand & Flowers became the first to hold two Michelin stars. He has since appeared on television shows including Great British Menu, Food and Drink, Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, The Food Detectives, and Bake Off: Creme de la Creme, which he has presented since March. Adigi digital Dan Martin told Prolific North: “With an already established presence on television and his own Michelin-starred restaurants, Tom is already a well known celebrity chef. The new website capitalises on his recent success and will grow his brand online.” Adigi will continue to work with Kerridge on a recipes section and a platform to sell his own products.

Rileys Sports Bars signs supply deal with Heineken and Matthew Clark: Rileys Sports Bars has signed a new supply deal with Heineken UK and drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark. Rileys managing director Steve Thick said the deal would “perfectly complement our vision of the future”. He added: “Rileys has had challenges in the past but this represents the considerable progress we have made in the past year with support from our owners Weight Partners Capital.” The Private equity firm bought the 43-strong Rileys business out of administration in December 2014. Weight Partners Capital founder Jim Weight added: “These associations are an important step in Rileys putting its own infrastructure into place. As the in-house team has grown, the performance of the business and the customer proposition have both improved dramatically. We congratulate the team on their achievements so far and hope these new partnerships take Rileys on to even greater performance.” Heineken UK draught dispense controller Simon Gray said the company would install Smart Dispense equipment across the group from the outset, which would “drive beer quality, reduce wastage and deliver significant energy savings in each outlet”.

Brighton ethical chicken brand Hen to launch London pop-up with MasterChef finalists: Brighton ethical chicken brand Hen will launch a London residency with MasterChef finalists Billy Wright and Jack Layer on Thursday, 21 July. The pop-up in Upper Street, Islington, will run for six months and feature Hen’s “beak to feet” menu using high welfare chickens raised on Caldecott Farm in Worcestershire. Sides will include chicken wings in sweet spicy hot sauce and, exclusive to London, crispy chicken feet, which all guests will receive free on arrival. Chicken will be available grilled by the quarter or half and all meat served with a spiced buttermilk marinade and a choice of three other marinades – barbecue, South American-style red eye, and hot chilli. Hen Burgers will also be on offer served pulled, fried or grilled and topped with chicken skin mayo, charred gem lettuce, tomato, and pickled cucumber. A concise drinks menu will feature signature cocktails, craft beers and regular guest brews from UK micro-breweries. A short wine list will feature organic bottles from independent producers. Hen was founded by Philip Ilic in 2014. In December last year, he raised £150,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand the concept.

Gourmet cheese restaurant set to open in Nottingham city centre: A new gourmet cheese restaurant could be set to launch in the centre of Nottingham after plans were given the green light by the city council. Bryn Taylor, of Tier Lounge Ltd, applied for prior approval to change the use of 38 Pelham Street from a shop to cafe/restaurant in May. The venue would serve luxury dishes comprising cheese, bread and meat sourced from local producers seven days a week, from 11am to midnight. It is expected to create four full-time jobs and three part-time roles. The Pelham Street unit has been vacant for six months and has been home to four retail tenants in the past three years. A statement in the application form said the new restaurant also provided an “opportunity for an improved shop front”. The plans were approved by Nottingham City Council as long as ventilation plans were submitted before any work on the building began. An odour assessment and refuse details must also be provided. The plans for Tier Lounge were prepared by Long Eaton design firm MBDP Architecture. Pelham Street is also home to Fox Café, Homemade, Cape, and Wired Café Bar.

Oakman lands data analysis in three weeks: Oakman Inns has announced the first phase of its data warehousing and business analytics solution was built and operational in less than three weeks by Tahola. Tahola’s EposMart for Zonal data warehouse will provide Oakman Inns with feeds from its EPOS system into QlikView analytics software, allowing the business to analyse performance through bespoke dashboards. The solution provides detailed analysis across the entire estate on areas such as units, products and operators, while streamlining head office data analysis, allowing the business to act on information quickly. Future phases of the solution will see Tahola integrate additional sources including payroll, human resources, room reservations, health and safety, table bookings, guest feedback, social media and management accounts. Joseph Evans, Oakman Inns chief financial officer, said: “As a business grows and evolves, the need for accurate, prompt and clearly communicated data increases exponentially. Tahola’s experience in our sector made them a logical choice to create a bespoke solution for us, that we named Dodona. We have been impressed with the pace and quality of their delivery and we are already benefiting from the output. We can now effectively analyse the output from our EPOS systems and are looking forward to working with Tahola on the next phase.”

Camden Town Brewery appoints PR agency to grow brand globally: Camden Town Brewery has appointed PR agency W as it seeks to become a more global brand. The company was founded in London in 2010 and acquired by the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) at the end of 2015. Following a competitive pitch process, London-based W was appointed on an initial 12-month brief, with its work to encompass consumer and corporate comms, influencer engagement and live events. Since the acquisition by AB InBev, Camden Town Brewery has opened a facility in Enfield and last month launched new packaging design and branding. W founder and chief executive Warren Johnson said: “The stage is set for Camden Town Brewery to become one of the most exciting drinks brands in the world – genuinely fusing the craft, integrity, personality and spirit of an independent company with the scale, investment and expertise of a global powerhouse.”

Butcombe Brewery becomes first to achieve Grain to Glass accreditation: Butcombe Brewery has become the first brewery to be accredited with Grain to Glass quality assurance by Cask Marque. The Grain to Glass programme, developed by Cask Marque, saw SALSA auditors assess the whole Butcombe beer-making process up to its delivery and being poured into a glass for the consumer. This has seen Butcombe audited and assessed over a six-month period, covering health and safety, legal compliance, and product quality within the company. It also saw Butcombe’s warehousing gain Cask Marque’s Distribution Charter, confirming its storage and handling of cask ale is in perfect order. All of Butcombe’s 21 pubs are subject to annual cellar inspections by Cask Marque, are star rated via Scores on the Doors, and hold the Cask Marque award for beer quality in the glass. News of the Grain to Glass accreditation was delivered at the Cask Marque AGM in London by Cask Marque director Paul Nunny, who said: “This is a magnificent achievement by Butcombe and a commitment that endorses it as a quality brewer and pub retailer. Many people talk a good story but Butcombe committed itself to an independent inspection to examine its practices. We hope other brewers will follow its leadership.”

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, reveals details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments facing bar and nightclub operators in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at

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